When selecting lighting for the home or office, many consumers today face a dilemma. Should I use fluorescent (including compact fluorescent) bulbs to save energy or should I use incandescent bulbs to save my sanity?
For many, the cold, flickering light produced by fluorescent fixtures is intolerable. Fluorescent lights typically cannot be dimmed and are thus frequently too bright, causing eye strain when working. The light emitted by florescent bulbs is uneven (it's concentrated in peaks and missing in valleys) along the lighting spectrum which mutes and distorts colors. Frankly, many of us find it depressing.
Traditional incandescent bulbs produce rich, full-spectrum light and are easily dimmed. Unfortunately, traditional incandescent bulbs are terribly inefficient. They emit relatively little light per watt of power consumed and they burn out frequently necessitating replacement.
Enter halogen lighting. Halogen lighting offers an excellent compromise for those that won't settle for poor quality light but still want to be environmentally responsible.
Halogen bulbs offer several advantages:
1. Halogen bulbs produce excellent, full-spectrum, crisp, white light. The light is just as easy on the eye as traditional incandescent bulbs, but the light is whiter (less yellow than traditional bulbs) and renders colors accurately.
2. Halogen lamps have a higher efficacy than normal incandescent bulbs. This means that they convert more energy into light and less into heat producing more light per watt than incandescent bulbs. A 60 watt halogen bulb will produce as much light as a traditional 100 watt bulb. Halogen bulbs require effectively 40% less power than standard incandescent options.
3. Halogen bulbs have an average lifespan twice that of traditional incandescent bulbs. This means less hassle to replace them and less space in a landfill.
4. Halogen lights may be dimmed easily and the light they produce is precise and directional. The small filament and precise reflectors used in halogen bulbs make them ideal for confining and controlling their light to specific areas (for example, illuminating your desk but not your computer monitor). This is critical when trying to reduce eye strain in work environments.
5. Finally, halogen bulbs are relatively compact. This allows them to be used in a variety of innovating light fixtures.
Halogen bulbs do have some disadvantages:
1. Halogen bulbs do cost a little more than their established traditional competitors, but they are far less expensive than LED of CF options.
2. Although longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, the lifespan of a halogen bulb is shorter than fluorescents.
3. Halogen bulbs become very hot when operating. Care must be taken not to touch operating lamps.
For larger rooms, consider halogen track lighting as an energy efficient solution to produce abundant quality light. Track systems allow the directional heads to be aimed in any direction which is important considering the precise beam of many halogen bulbs.
Before calculating the 'return on investment' or the 'total cost of ownership' of a proposed energy-efficient lighting solution for your home of office, consider the value of quality light. What value do you place on reduced eye strain? For those that care about their eyes and their sanity, the advantages of halogen lighting will almost certainly make it the choice over other energy-effective alternatives.
John DeLaruse is a lighting expert at the web's largest resource for cable, monorail and track lightingHome Building Books
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